On Friday of last week — Friday the 13th — I wrote a column. Just as I completed it, it disappeared into the wild blue yonder. Efforts by my son-in-law, Bob, to retrieve it were futile, and that is why there was no column.
I had correspondence from several of my readers inquiring if I was having a “sick spell” again, but it was my sick computer. I am thinking of retiring my column, as it seems I keep repeating myself over and over, (as the elderly do) but I am undecided. Time will tell, I reckon.
Of course, what I wrote about was the superstition concerning Friday the 13th, and why it was considered an “unlucky” day. Friday has been viewed as an unlucky day since medieval times. It was thought bad luck to start anything on a Friday, such as a new journey, a job, a marriage, a business project or giving birth, among other things.
I can’t remember on what day of the week my children were born, but I consider each of them “good luck.”
There were people who would not cut their hair or their fingernails on a Friday. In Britain, Friday was the conventional day for public hangings, and there were supposedly 13 steps leading to the noose. Now that was a matter of bad luck!
Some of Friday’s reputation was the number of people at the Last Supper before the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Judas Iscariot, the traitor of our Savior, made the 13th person.
I have never really believed in luck, although being mostly Irish, we have all heard of the “luck of the Irish.” It was certainly not “good luck” that my computer swallowed up my column. I have read that the luck of the Irish is extreme good fortune, but why should the Irish be luckier than other folks?
Luck is defined as happiness or good fortune, and I possess both. The blessings that I enjoy have come from my relationship with my Heavenly Savior, and I praise His name for what He has given me. It is not luck, but the benefits that He showers upon His children.
We recently celebrated St. Patrick’s Day, and I have heard that everyone is Irish on that day. With my maiden name being O’Dell, I can raise my banner and declare that I am one of Ireland’s own! In fact, my family has been researched, and documents prove that our ancestors came to England during the potato famine. They spent 100 years there, and built an O’Dell castle.
My aunt, May O’Dell Hungerford, made a trip to Ireland and found many fascinating facts there. She viewed the O’Dell castle and pursued documents that pertained to the family. After the O’Dells left England and came to America, they scattered all over the continent.
West Virginia, with its beautiful mountains and rugged landscape, must have appealed to some of them who settled here.
I have always had a longing to visit the country of my forebears, as I feel a pull of kinship from there. My daughter Crystal and her husband Jeff toured there last year, and they loved it. I love reading about it, and how St. Patrick has been Ireland’s patron saint for over a thousand years. Although he was born in Britain, he was kidnapped as a lad and brought to Ireland as a slave.
Later, he escaped, but returned to Ireland and is credited with bringing Christianity to its people. Probably the most well-known legend was how he explained the Holy Trinity by the shamrock, a native Irish clover. The three leaves of the shamrock were compared to the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
My mother loved the fable that St. Patrick drove all the snakes from Ireland, and wished he would do the same here! She was deathly afraid of snakes, and I suppose this fear was handed on down to her daughters.
After my husband had open-heart surgery years ago, he had nightmares about snakes. They were crawling in his bed, and one night he awakened me by wrapping his arms so tightly about me that I couldn’t move. He was protecting me from the snakes!
St. Patrick’s Day always brings to my mind our late neighbor, Paw Braley. Rain or shine, it was the day to plant potatoes. Ramming his bare feet into a pair of rubber galoshes, he hitched up the horse to the plow and got the ground ready for planting. He raised a big family, including a lot of grandchildren, and he needed to get those potatoes in the ground.
No matter the weather, he always raised a good patch of potatoes. For the past few years, we’ve only raised a row or two to “gravel.” That is the word we use to describe how we use a fork to scratch into a hill of potatoes and carefully take out a few small ones. The hill is then covered up to resume growing.
That is one of the earliest garden crops that we enjoy. The little potatoes then have their thin skins removed (you can almost use a washcloth) and boiled tender. They are thickened with milk, cornstarch and butter, and paired with the wilted leaves of tender lettuce and chopped green onions.
Dressing is made with hot bacon grease and a little vinegar, sugar and salt. Sometimes Mom would throw a handful of shelled early peas in the potatoes. The very thought of this meal brings spring memories that will never fade.
We will probably raise a garden from now on, even if it entails dragging a wheelchair through the garden. There are some things that are so firmly fixed in our upbringing that it is hard to dislodge.
Last year’s garden was pretty much a failure. Too much rain ruined the early crops, drowned the cucumbers, made a mess of the green beans, and generally made a mess of all of it, except some sweet corn that son-in-law Bob succeeded in growing.
On top of that, the late cabbage plants that were heading out in a beautiful fashion were discovered by deer and neatly dispatched. We can always have hope that the next garden will be good!
In memory of this St. Patrick’s Day, I want to send out an Irish blessing to all:
May these rich blessings be your due —
A wealth of friendships, old and new
Some service rendered, some solace given,
And gentle peace with God and Heaven.